Reprogramming, that is, taking a program I am operating under — be that an action I am doing repetitively, an attitude I have, a belief I’m using to limit myself or a story I’m telling myself to compensate for something I’m lacking — and making small incremental changes to rewire my brain to end with a more desirable outcome, takes an incredible amount of self-awareness and patience.
I’ve been doing this kind of reprogramming since I was a very young child.
I hated myself in no uncertain terms.
As adults, what we don’t realise is that we become that which was the void in our childhood, sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes it isn’t. It will depend on the choices you make with what circumstances your life experiences give you.
My pivotal turning point was as a nine-year-old. I was at a family Christmas party standing with my mum and her two sisters, my aunts. I don’t know what I said, but one aunt turned to me, patted me on the head and said, “Oh, Karen*, you’re just like your father.” And without taking a breath, turned to my mother and said a long barrage of horrible things about my dad.
Up to that point, while I knew my dad was a tough man to please, I knew him to be my hero. I didn’t know that there was a much-disliked version of him. In my innocent child mind, I drew the natural conclusion:
If I’m just like my father, and she’s saying all these nasty things about him, that must mean, I’m just like him too.
It was something I decided then and there I never wanted for myself. I never wanted anyone to say about me what they said about him.
For the rest of my childhood, teens and early twenties, as I navigated life, living in different Australian cities, and travelling and living in the US, Canada, China, and South East Asia, I wrote of my experiences as a way to self-therapize and analyse every aspect of my personality.
It was a torturous experience replaying every single interaction I ever had with anyone to work out what my impact on them was. I second-guessed everything I did and said because I needed to know how I was being perceived, received and whether I was liked. I so desperately wanted to be accepted. I cared deeply about others opinions and judgements of me.
It took until I was about 24 to realise that I was never ever going to be able to prevent people from judging me. It took me even longer to be okay with that because I wanted to control that judgement as much as possible.
At the age of 28, on a sojourn to Cambodia in between English teaching jobs in China, I met the man that would later become my husband. I had by this age reached a point of okayness with myself but not body acceptance. My Nigerian man taught me over the next few years how to love my body and my mind. And it was my baby and my NLP training that finally cemented my long journey to self-love.
This whole process of self-awareness has been documented in journals that I’ve been writing since that life transformative experience as a nine-year-old. Through my intense loneliness, my mother encouraged me to write. She said that so long as I had words I would always have friends. It took me a long time to realise how right she was.
Reprogramming must be respected for the time it needs. It is neither a fast nor a slow process. It is simply a process of uncovering what you don’t know you don’t know about yourself. Like layer by layer of peeling an onion, gradually you reach the core until there’s nothing left but its soul. That’s where I’m going, to rediscover my soul, that deep well of love and compassion that resides within us all.
It is from this place — if ‘place’ is even the right word — that I wish to be of service.
Going on a hiatus from LinkedIn was the first compassionate action I’ve taken for myself. Other than journaling, learning from diverse sources and writing here of what I discover, I have no other plans. I can only trust that all that I’ve learned about myself thusfar will guide the way.
*I was given the name Karen at birth, even though it wasn’t what my mother wanted. I hated the name Karen and always went by Kaz. At the age of 25, I legally changed my name to Caron, which is representative of my mother’s father name, Ron. It’s a Welsh first name that means, ‘love’. Ironically, I still go by Caz now, but only because most Aussie’s are linguistically lazy and cannot put emphasis on second syllables. For those who care to say it accurately, it is Car-Ron. xx